Israel arrests Palestinian lawyer who protested against Abbas

JERUSALEM (AP) – A Palestinian human rights lawyer was arrested by Israeli forces early Sunday after participating in a protest in the occupied West Bank against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his rights group said.

Independent Human Rights Commission says Farid al-Atrash was detained at an Israeli checkpoint upon his return a protest against the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, where the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority are located. He said al-Atrash had been transferred to the Israeli Hadassah Hospital.

Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian activist and friend of al-Atrash, said he was released from hospital hours later and was still being questioned by Israeli authorities. It is not known why he was hospitalized.

Neither the IDF nor the police responded to requests for comment.

Amro and al-Atrash have both been arrested by Israel in the past for organizing and participating in protests against its military occupation of the West Bank. But Amro said al-Atrash had recently focused his efforts on the Palestinian Authority’s protest against Nizar Banat, an activist who died shortly after being violently arrested by Palestinian security forces last month.

He said another human rights lawyer, Mohannad Karajah, who defends protesters arrested by the Palestinian Authority, was briefly detained by Palestinian authorities on Sunday. Amro himself was detained by the Palestinian Authority last month and held overnight, days before Banat died in custody.

The Palestinian Authority does not publicly comment on the arrests.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority coordinate security in the West Bank in order to suppress Hamas and other militant groups that both see as a threat. This policy is deeply unpopular among Palestinians and is one of the several long-standing grievances fueling recent protests.

Thousands of Palestinians have joined protests in recent weeks against the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PA has become increasingly unpopular and autocratic in recent years, even as Western countries continue to view it as a key partner in the dying peace process.

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